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Thornton: A New Ironman

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
When Joe Thornton plays against Columbus on Thursday night at HP Pavilion, he will set a new Sharks ironman mark of 248 consecutive games played. He currently shares the record of 247 with Vincent Damphousse.

A consecutive games played streak in any sport is impressive, but even more so in a rough, demanding physical sport such as hockey. Last season, just four Sharks played the full 82-game schedule: Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Torrey Mitchell.

Thornton has never played a full 82-game schedule (he did play 81 games twice). But since coming to San Jose, he hasn’t missed a contest in a stretch running two complete seasons and parts of two others.

Thornton’s desire to play, whether it’s a practice or game, is a big part of the streak.

“Joe has a passion for the game and he wants to be on the ice,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s not just a job for him, it’s fun.”

“He loves the game and he wants to be on the ice whatever the situation,” Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson said. “That’s what you love about him.”

While Thornton has played in 247 consecutive games for the Sharks, don’t think he hasn’t played without pain. He’s done that and has had assistance from the Sharks training staff of Head Trainer Ray Tufts, Assistant Athletic Trainer Wes Howard, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mike Potenza and Massage Therapist Arnulfo Aguirre.

“There have been some groins and things like that,” Thornton said. “You wake up and you’re lying in bed sore and you think you can’t go, but you go to the rink, loosen up and get treatments from the trainer. They know your body pretty good. For me, you have to have a good training staff to try and play every game.”

Thornton is also sure not to let small nagging items turn into bigger ones.

“You’ve got to hop on things before they become a big problem,” Thornton said.

Thornton’s size (6-foot-4) can also make it more difficult to stay on the ice night in and night out.

“It’s very impressive, especially for a big man,” Thornton said.

There’s no doubt Thornton has a passion for the game. Taking a day off from practice or missing a game just isn’t part of his make-up.

“I want to play every game, whatever it takes,” Thornton said.

San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled right wing Tom Cavanagh from and reassigned right wing Riley Armstrong to the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Cavanagh, 26, has played in 21 games for Worcester this season and is tied for the team lead in points (9-9=18) and goals (9). He made his NHL debut with San Jose last season on April 3 at Los Angeles and recorded an assist just 36-seconds into the game, becoming the fourth fastest player to record a point in his debut since 1989-90.

The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Warwick, Rhode Island was originally selected by San Jose in the sixth round (182nd overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Armstrong, 24, registered two penalty minutes in two games with San Jose, making his NHL debut at Phoenix on Nov. 29. He returns to Worcester where he ranks fifth on the team in points (9-5=14) and is tied for the team lead in goals (9).

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan was signed by San Jose as a free agent on Sept. 15, 2004.

Head Coach Todd McLellan noted after Tuesday’s morning skate that the club is keeping Jonathan Cheechoo off the ice for a little longer.

“We hope he’s skating in the next couple of days,” McLellan said, “but we’re not rushing him back to the point where he re-injures himself.”

Goaltending prospect Tyson Sexsmith is one of 38 players invited to Canada’s tryout camp for the World Junior Championships, which will be played in Ottawa starting Dec. 26.

Sexsmith, who plays for the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants, is currently third in the WHL with a 2.17 goals-against average.

Notable Sharks prospects who won’t be on their national junior clubs include Logan Couture, Nick Petrecki or Alex Stalock, but that can be a badge of honor for Sharks prospects. Among current Sharks never selected to play in the WJC are Devin Setoguchi, Jonathan Cheechoo and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Don't have tickets for the San Jose Sharks home game against the Edmonton Oilers game on the 6th?

Then consider going to Oakland Ice Center operated by Sharks Ice for the first annual Oakland Police vs. Firemen charity hockey game.

Oakland's finest will be battling it out on the ice and hosting a silent auction for the benefit of the newly formed Oakland Technical High School hockey program.

Funds raised at the event will be used to buy hockey equipment and other essentials for the Oakland Tech physical education program and hockey club.

The Oakland Tech hockey program has an enrollment of 108 students who come to the rink three times a week for a 7 a.m. hockey and skating class.

The puck drops at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, payable at the door. For more information, please go to

The Sharks will play hosts to Columbus on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available at or at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office. The contest will be aired on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and

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